Sunday, August 6, 2017

HANDS ON OR HANDS OFF?




OK, so we can’t help it. We mothers always want to protect our kids, even when they are in their teens. We’re just like hens with our chickens. In fact, I often still call my 39 and 37 year old children, ‘chickens’. We can be downright embarrassing sometimes. When my preteens came home from school with some tale of how they were wrongly treated, I only needed to say, “Do you want me to march down to the school with my purple umbrella?” They would yell, “No, no! Don’t come down to school, Mom. Please don’t come to school!!!!”

So, when should we take our hands off and allow our kids to become exposed to the bumps life inevitably brings? The simple answer would be, when we have prepared them for every scenario they are likely to face. But is that a reality? We can never really know the extent of what they will encounter. Life is one long training camp. We only get one shot at it. We don’t always get time to practice and sometimes we only get one try at the prize. That makes parenting a really responsible job!

We teach our kids how to do many things through their early years. It takes time and during the process we hold their hand, hold on to the bike seat or the back of the cart until they can do it alone. What jubilation there is when they succeed without falling over! Teaching our kids independence is a bittersweet activity. We want them to fly solo, but in doing so, they are telling us they don’t need us. So we hang on longer than we need to, just to stay connected and in many cases to feel needed.

Perhaps we hold on because we don’t want them to get hurt. After all, we know life is not fair and we know how it feels to fail. We know we will not always be the winner, get picked for the team or get chosen for the job. We know that when we make poor decisions there will be consequences. But, that is life. Our children will face these situations whether we are there to pick up the pieces or not. So, is hovering over them or ‘smothering them instead of mothering them’ going to prepare them for what every person in the world faces at some time or another? I say, no.

WHAT WE SHOULD DO IS:

a) We teach them how to perform tasks and how to perform them safely.
b) We teach them our values and how and why these values form our character.
c) We coach them on how to make wise decisions and choices.
d) We praise them for successes.
e) We put consequences in place for non-compliance.
f) We endeavor to be great role models.
g) We are fair, consistent and equal with our love and attention to each child.
h) We teach them right from wrong.
i) Teach them how to take responsibility for their own actions.
j) We stand close by and dust them off when plans do not turn out as expected.
k) We try to focus on their efforts rather than just their results.

Through these processes we are teaching our children strong principles so that, even though a particular scenario may not be exactly the same as one we have taught, they will still be able to work out what to do, especially if we are not there for advice.

WHAT WE SHOULD NOT DO IS:

a) Stand up for our child when the child is actually wrong.
b) Protect our child from failure and all possible hurt.
c) Give our child everything they want so they are never disappointed.
d) Create unreasonable expectations (e.g. my child is an A+ student), if they are actually incapable
     of producing such a high grade.

None of the points above have any connection with reality.

We don’t have to be cruel to be kind, but we do have to prepare our kids while we have them at home so they are well prepared for their future. There is nothing wrong in being there when they fall, but they must feel some of the pain. We do need to help our children evaluate the situation so they can get the desired outcome next time around. And, even if the outcome was inevitable (because life is not always fair), we need to teach them not to dwell in the land of what ‘shoulda-coulda’ happened, but how to move on.



Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families
www.forefrontfamilies.org

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

THE LAST WORDS OF STEVE JOBS


I have come to the pinnacle of success in business.
In the eyes of others, my life has been the symbol of success.
However, apart from work, I have little joy. Finally, my wealth is simply a fact to which I am accustomed.
At this time, lying on the hospital bed and remembering all my life, I realize that all the accolades and riches of which I was once so proud, have become insignificant with my imminent death.
In the dark, when I look at green lights, of the equipment for artificial respiration and feel the buzz of their mechanical sounds, I can feel the breath of my approaching death looming over me.
Only now do I understand that once you accumulate enough money for the rest of your life, you have to pursue objectives that are not related to wealth.
It should be something more important:
For example, stories of love, art, dreams of my childhood.
No, stop pursuing wealth, it can only make a person into a twisted being, just like me.
God has made us one way, we can feel the love in the heart of each of us, and not illusions built by fame or money, like I made in my life, I cannot take them with me.
I can only take with me the memories that were strengthened by love.
This is the true wealth that will follow you; will accompany you, he will give strength and light to go ahead.
Love can travel thousands of miles and so life has no limits. Move to where you want to go. Strive to reach the goals you want to achieve. Everything is in your heart and in your hands.
What is the world's most expensive bed? The hospital bed.
You, if you have money, you can hire someone to drive your car, but you cannot hire someone to take your illness that is killing you.
Material things lost can be found. But one thing you can never find when you lose: life.
Whatever stage of life where we are right now, at the end we will have to face the day when the curtain falls.
Please treasure your family love, love for your spouse, love for your friends...
Treat everyone well and stay friendly with your neighbours.


THIS TIMELY REMINDER OF OUR PRIORITIES WAS SOURCED FROM FACE BOOK

Saturday, June 3, 2017

FOSTERING BROTHERLY LOVE




I read an article that said that bickering and squabbling between brothers and sisters is natural and that unless things get heated, parents should just accept that it is a healthy way for kids to learn to live with one another. It went on to say that rivalry isn’t unique to humans and that we see it in the animal kingdom constantly.

It does concern me that we, as parents, should accept fighting amongst family members as a normal and meaningful way to learn how to ‘play nice’.

Our children are not animals and to allow them to bicker and fight and disrupt household harmony as a means of improving relationships seems counter-productive to me. Wouldn’t it be quicker and more proactive to teach them from an early age the value of being respectful so they don’t get to such levels of frustration that anger bubbles over?

My husband, Brian, is one of three boys. When they started fighting one another, their father gave them all boxing gloves and ushered them into the back yard to duke it out. I asked him once, having been the youngest brother, how he fared. His reply was, “I bled!” I wonder what healthy lesson they learned from that?

I must confess that when our kids were small, I thought they would never stop arguing. Thankfully, when they reached their mid-teens, they turned the corner and are now best friends. (It also helps that they have their own families now and live in different countries. However, they always pine to see one

another as often as possible). But, why did they act out in this way in their early years? Were they just re-enacting how they saw us solve our differences? No, we were peaceful, respectful parents. Did we purposefully train them to better manage their anger and frustration? No. Quite obviously we didn’t!

Why didn’t we step in and teach them a more appropriate way to handle their differences? Maybe we were so busy with our stuff that we were not aware of the telltale signs of trouble brewing until it was too late? Maybe we, like many, thought it was normal, gave in to the inevitability, and/or just crossed our fingers that they would eventually grow out of it. Maybe, way back then we didn’t know how to deal with it. Nobody that we knew was qualified to answer our questions or we didn’t know anyone who was doing any better. I am sincerely sorry now that we were not more proactive in showing our kids a better way.

HOW TO DEAL WITH SQUABBLING KIDS

  • Teach your kids to share, to wait their turn and to speak respectfully to one another.
  • Look at your own role modeling and handle your own differences in a way you would want your kids to manage theirs.
  • Check the environment frequently to gauge whether the balance of communication generally is more negative than positive. If negative, then observe the individual child’s behaviors to work out the source.
  • Teach children to recognize their own anger levels. Do not allow the statement, “He made me mad!” but rather, “I am angry because….” Teach them that anger and negative reactions are a choice, rather than an acceptable reason for retaliation.
  • Watch out for bullying, overbearing or spiteful displays of behaviors and provide opportunities for your children to tell you about their personal frustrations.

CREATE A FORMULA FOR DEFUSING ARGUMENTS

  1. STOP – work out what is happening. Take a deep breath. Walk away.
  2. THINK – Is this really worth fighting about? Is the current solution working?
  3. ASK the other person how they might solve the problem together. Use words not fists to solve the problem.

Teach your children what the formula is and give them time to practice getting it right. If the problem cannot be solved, then involve a parent in creating a solution.

If you come upon an argument, separate the kids. Do not jump in with discipline until you have heard the full story. Don’t raise your voice over theirs.

Peacefulness in the home is a precious thing. It stems from self-control and regard for others. Encouraging your kids to affirm one another face to face on a regular basis is a great start.

If you have any comments or questions on this subject, please do not hesitate to contact us at sally@forefrontfamilies.org. We invite you to also check out our website at www.forefrontfamilies.org

WHO IS AT THE CENTER OF YOUR HOME?




We believe that a successful home is
                                               God-centered
                                                       parent-directed
                                                               family-orientated
                                                                          outward-focused

We do not believe in a child-centered home and here is the reason.

GOD CENTERED

Within the Bible we find excellent values to live by.  We learn to love one another, be faithful, honest, committed, selfless, respectful, obedient and act with integrity.

PARENT DIRECTED

As parents we are given the responsibility to lead the family.  We teach them the qualities above so they become responsible, hard working adults with excellent character and to one day be sound leaders within their own homes.  We need to create and teach family values and lead by example.  We need to set high expectations yet be fair in giving the guidance needed to reach those expectations.  We need to set boundaries and consequences for infringements.  We need to teach our children by example how to make wise choices.  We should be loving yet firm in our discipline.  Who is in charge? Parents should be!


When a baby is born into the family it naturally requires all the attention.  That is quite natural.  However, there has to come a time when the child becomes part of the family rather than demanding all the attention.  To do this they need to understand about contributing to the greater family welfare such as looking after their own stuff, helping in family function, sharing and caring. (see below)

 FAMILY ORIENTED

When we say we believe a home should be family oriented, we mean that parents are actually part of the family.  We have found that when parents concentrate solely on kids’ needs, the dynamic is completely lopsided.  The kids are in control of the family’s direction and their needs always seem to come first.  Kids may get the notion that the universe revolves around them.  This situation is not preparing them for the real world.  It is not teaching them that they are part of a team and a community.   It doesn’t encourage them to consider others, to fit into others’ plans, or to value their parents.

To be family oriented, the whole family needs to have equal share of fun times along with family chores.  To provide for, and ensure other’s needs are met, the family has to have a plan.  When kids decide they want to be in sports teams, attend gymnastics, music, or dance classes, a family meeting needs to take place to discuss how this will affect the family unit, including the parents' own relationship.  Every aspect needs to be thought through.   How long is the class?  How many practices will there be per week?  Who is going to provide the transport?  How much will the activity cost? Does it mean the family dynamics will be impacted in favor of one member above others?

Kids need to learn to think about what parents want and make sure they can enjoy fun activities, too. How can this happen?  In those family talks, each member of the family has a turn to say what they would like to do – what hobby, what sport, or what study?  I remember when my kids were pre-schoolers and I decided I wanted to start university study as an external student.  I didn’t just go ahead and buy the books and start.   I discussed it with my husband.   We talked about how much time it would take per week, whether we could afford the fees, and what I would do with the kids when I was trying to study.  There was also the problem of what to do with the children when I had to travel several hundred miles to attend a week-long, in–house course at the University.  I was very grateful that my husband saw what doing this study would mean to me and he did everything he could to help me.  Parents can still have a life when their kids are small.  We did and it worked.

OUTWARDLY FOCUSED

A vital part of healthy family living is to become contributors to the wider community.  Whether that means being involved in fund raising efforts, offering free services, food or used toys to others in need, helping where need is observed, being members of clubs, sharing their skills or knowledge to help others - all of these activities teach children to give of themselves for the sake of the wider good.  They learn that they have a responsibility beyond themselves.

If you have any comments, questions or success stories to share on this subject, please contact us through our website on www.forefrontfamilies.org by email at sally@forefrontfamilies.org

PREPARE YOUR KIDS FOR LIFE



 It really alarms me that so many families we know just exist from day to day with no goals. They ‘take each day as it comes’ and allow circumstances to dictate the direction their lives take. I appreciate that there are circumstances when we really do have to take each day as it comes but for probably 75% of our lives, we can and should plan. Who are we? What does our family want to be known for? What do we want to achieve as a family over the next 15 years? What do we want to achieve today? To be successful and purposeful we really need to plan.

Having a plan is the most productive way to approach any part of your life. Teaching kids how to make plans is imperative. Many of us make plans for particular events such as taking a vacation, getting married, preparing for exams, becoming fit or sticking to a diet, but we don’t plan for everyday things. To ‘plan’ means to map out a course of action. You can’t very well map out a course of action unless you know what you want the end result to be. You need to be clear about the end goal and the time-frame by which you want to achieve it. Creating a plan is being proactive. Just letting things happen and facing the consequences is time being reactive. I am not saying that we should not be spontaneous at times. Spontaneity is fun. We love to decide at the last minute to go somewhere or do something – as long as it doesn’t disrupt our overall plan. You can create plans that have a spontaneous element in them. When we go to Florida, we plan when to leave home and when to be back but we decide on any given day where we will go and what we will do.

EVERYDAY PLANNING

Kids do not survive well in chaos. They like routine. There should be a family plan that is routine for weekdays. This includes when everyone gets up, who uses the bathroom in what order, a specific time for meals, and a chores plan. Time is a valuable thing and with planning a family can schedule in time for family fun.

WEEKEND PLANNING

Sports, visits, movies, sleep-overs can all be scheduled, making sure that all members of the family have quality time with one another.

LONG TERM PLANNING

Deciding on the particular direction a family should take is probably the planning that is most lacking in our society today. To succeed in this kind of planning you first have to create your own family values. (If you are unsure of how to identify and create your own family values, contact us.) When the whole family lives within this framework, a family identity has been formulated. The end goal needs to be clearly stated so that kids can see the reason why they need to follow the plan. The end goal for parents might be that all of their children experience success, learn how to handle failure, become responsible, honest, caring and valued members of adult society. Individual goals can be set for kids as they identify their interests in sports, activities and careers. Parents goals can be set to the point when their children leave home, to then continue as a couple in later life. Goal number one may be to contribute and encourage their kids to reach their potential and meet their goals. Goal number two would be to retain enough sanity to be able to enjoy goal 3, which is to enjoy retirement together.

Teach your kids to have goals. Teach them to create plans to ensure their goals will be met. There is an enormous sense of satisfaction in looking back on your life and being able to say, “I tried many things, I failed a few, I succeeded a lot, but most importantly I fulfilled my dreams because I didn’t waste any time – I made plans”.

If you have any thoughts, suggestions or success stories on this subject we would love to hear from you though our website on www.forefrontfamilies.org or our email at sally@forefrontfamilies.org




LEAD BY EXAMPLE


  


Is it true that some are born to lead while others are destined to follow? Can we instill leadership skills into all of our children? These are interesting questions to ponder. The first statement is true. Some people are born with the personality traits and gifts that give them the aptitude to lead without trying. It would be a sad and crazy world indeed if we had all leaders and no followers. In fact, you can’t be a leader if nobody is following.

There are those who like to manage or influence other people and those who would rather follow instructions and just do the work. No matter which category a person falls into, it is imperative that we learn the kind of leadership skills that will protect us from blindly following a negative path. The kind of skills I am referring to are such things as; knowing right from wrong, learning how to make wise choices, accepting responsibility for our own actions, respecting authority, forgiving others, motivating others, putting others’ needs before our own and trusting them, to name a few.

HOW AND WHEN CAN WE START?

Firstly, we need to realize that leadership is a training process. It is not merely a trait that you have or don’t have that needs some honing up during the teenage years. From infancy children begin to learn right from wrong as parents explain and train their children how to meet their expectations. God has placed in everyone a sense of knowing right from wrong. Isn’t it amazing that we never have to teach children to be bad, but we do have to teach them how to be good! Consistency in training along with praise for getting it right and good modeling develops this quality.

Setting boundaries and issuing consequences guides a child to learn obedience and to respect authority. By crossing the set boundaries, they are making the choice to take the consequences. The parent is merely carrying out the penalty the child knew would occur, thus teaching them to take responsibility for their own actions.

 TEACH THEM HOW TO MAKE WISE CHOICES

Making wise choices is learned through positive role modeling by parents, open communication between child and parent and support when negative choices are made - thus alleviating a similar result next time. Not every decision needs pondered thought. It depends on how it will affect them or others. Parents need to explain the kind of steps that will help produce a positive outcome. How important is this choice to me? Is my decision going to affect anyone else? Is this decision going to alter the course of my career or long term goals? Too many times we make choices by not doing anything or by being sucked into a negative activity without thinking. Making wise choices is all about thinking of the consequences before we act. Effective leaders are not trapped into holding grudges. By forgiving others, we become free to focus clearly on what is ahead. By working as part of a team we learn to trust others. There is no need to clamber for the glory.

We need to instill leadership qualities into the followers as well as the natural leaders from an early age so that our children make a positive imprint on the world around them. The world needs leaders who can inspire others and lead them on to greatness.

If you have any comments or questions on this subject, please do not hesitate to contact us at sally@forefrontfamilies.org. We invite you to also check out our website at www.forefrontfamilies.org and our blog site at www.forefrontfamilies.blogspot.com for further assistance.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

CHILD GROOMING BY PREDATORS




The news in Tennessee over the last 5 weeks has been rife with the abduction of a 15 year-old high-school student by her 50 year-old forensics teacher.  The whole country got the AMBER alert and this week the breaking news was that they were found in a remote north Californian location where there was no cell phone service to tip off their whereabouts.  The now ex-teacher has been taken into custody and the girl is on her way back to Tennessee as we speak.  This is a huge relief to all concerned.

While listening to the follow up news, there were some interesting pointers that came to light that I thought would be useful to share.

WHO DO PREDATORS PRAY ON?

    Predators tend to look for a vulnerable child, one who is often shy and quiet and finds it hard to
    keep friends, one who is a loner.  They befriend that child and, to gain their confidence, give them
    'time and understanding' (something troubled kids in particular cry out for). They encourage the 
    child to talk about their worries and their home life, all the while gaining more and more 
    of a bond so they become more dependent on their 'new friend' than their parents.
    The child becomes desensitized by hugs and hand-holding by the predator. Alarm bells fail to go  
    off immediately as they would if the predator touched them inappropriately.

WHAT ARE THE TELL-TALE SIGNS OF A CHILD BEING GROOMED?

1.  They become secretive - won't say where they are going or where they have been.  Won't
     tell who their new friend is. They won't say where they get new clothes or new social media
     from.  They might sneak out at night, or say they want to 'sleep over with a friend', but won't say
     who that is.
2.  They may have long, late evening phone calls or computer communications in their bedroom.
3.  They may become tearful, but won't say why.  Perhaps it is because the predator is a family
     friend.

HOW DO WE PROTECT OUR KIDS FROM PREDATORS?

1.  All kids need to feel they are loved and belong in a caring family relationship.
2.  Parents should be interested in everything their kids are doing, and be totally involved in
     family activities. 
3. We need to talk to our kids about their private parts and they should know what inappropriate
     touching means.They should be told that nobody should touch them in any place that a bathing 
     costume would cover.
4. We need to take every opportunity to educate our kids about the dangers of unhealthy friendships
     and explain in detail what a healthy relationship looks like.  
     For example:
     a) Close friendships should be with kids of similar age.
     b) Friends enjoy healthy fun activities like outdoor sports, becoming proficient in activities like 
         music, golf, fishing etc.  They do not huddle in dark corners watching violent or pornographic 
         videos, drinking alcohol or experimenting with drugs and/or sex. 
5.  Kids should not be allowed the privilege of privacy.  Parents should constantly be watching 
     for anything suspicious. They should encourage siblings to tell parents if they are worried about
     their brother or sister.  
6. They should hand over cell phones and laptops prior to going to their rooms to 
     sleep. 
7. We need to make it our business to know all our child's friends and authority figures.  We need to
     visit the school or clubs our kids attend often and unannounced.

Resource: Educateempowerkids.com   
                 http://educateempowerkids.org/8-ways-predator-might-groom-child/

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families.   
www.forefrontfamilies.org